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Terrible start at nursery - please tell me it will get better!

34 replies

makedoandmend · 03/08/2009 17:45

DD 8m is not very good with people other than myself and dh (this started around five months). When she's with us she's a very placid, happy little baby.

She's started nursery and we've done the three one hour sessions where she was fine until anyone tried to pick her up. She just screamed the place down - real tears the whole deal.

Today we had the first half day (I'm doing two weeks of three half days and then a week of three full days before I go back to work as I'll be working a couple of hours away and wanted to be close by for the settling in bit).

She hated it - wouldn't take a bottle (she's usually bf) because she needed to be held to have it, wouldn't eat tea, wouldn't go for a nap. She was upset, teary (blotchy face) and gulping air and shaking when I picked her up.

Now I feel awful. Please tell me that it gets better! How long does it take/ should I give it before looking for other options? and is there anything I could do to make it better?

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nickschick · 03/08/2009 17:52

Of course it will get better.

As a qualified NNEB and a mum of 3 ds I can assure you that the majority of babies/small children do settle and enjoy their day.

Its very hard at first I know but you need to stick to the same routine regardless of tears and tantrums,thats how she learns the routine of the day.

As a caring mum you have probably voewed several nurseries and are confident with the abilities and qualifications of the staff and they will have done this many times before and speaking from a professional viewpoint - its our job and most of us are damn good at it.

No child will starve or dehydrate themselves so today was just teething probs soon she will find a member of staff she loves and things will settle.

Continued perseverance is the key ohh and evening doses of wine for you.

(( hug 4 u))) tho cos its a rotten time they batter your emotions these bloomin babies dont they .

Calbourne · 03/08/2009 18:02

It is a really rotten time I know, but it does get better. This is just DD's way of adapting to new surroundings, and once she has done that she will enjoy her time at nursery learning & playing with others. As nickschick says, the key here is consistency, and being joyous about the process, because she will pick up on any anxieties you have. Also - don't be shy about talking to the staff at the nursery about how you are feeling. They have so much experience with this settling in period and will be able to reassure you.
Good luck!

makedoandmend · 03/08/2009 19:41

Sorry I got caught up in something else.

All made worse by the fact that she seems to have scratches all down one cheek. Thin straight lines - I don't think her nails are long but maybe she was really distressed at did it. Oh god more guilt!

nickschick - that made me feel better - I know they will look after her - it's just so hard to see her little face

Calbourne - thank you - I am trying to be light and breezy for her - through gritted teeth!

They've suggested I go in tomorrow for an unscheduled visit to feed her there. Hopefully she'll see me there chatting to the staff and will start to feel better. Unfortunately her main carer is away until Friday but can't be helped.

it will get better, it will get better, it will get better

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atworknotworking · 03/08/2009 20:54

Just a suggestion, and I know it's not ideal, but if your dd doesn't want to be picked up atm, how do you feel about her being bottle fed if she is in a bouncy chair, high chair, cumfy beanybag thing, just till she's a little more settled at least then she will get plenty of fluids and nourishment and the feed will calm her a little.

missorinoco · 03/08/2009 21:12

It will get better. DS was extremely unsettle when he started nursey. I used to wait in the recption as he would get so upset there was no point me going home initially. It took him time but he settled and loves it now.

It is very distressing to watch though. I second you should speak with the nursery staff.
And if like me, you are blaming yourself for going back to work, save yourself a guilt trip. (There's so much else to feel guilty about!)

Hope it gets better quickly.

makedoandmend · 03/08/2009 22:49

atworknotworking - apparently they tried the swing chair (i'm guessing/hoping not when it was swinging though!) - but that didn't work.

missorinoco - thanks that's cheered me up to know your ds now does well after a horrible start. There is hope!

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makedoandmend · 05/08/2009 19:59

Since first post after the Monday visit, I've been in and bf her there on an unscheduled day then she went in again today from 2.30 - 5.

Today she was ok for about an hour then cried and cried. Wouldn't take milk, wouldn't take water, took tiny bit of banana and wouldn't be picked up. Very tired, thirsty and upset baby by 5 - it took me a while to calm her down. I sat and bf her there then took her home (she fell asleep with no tea (so I'll probably be up all night!)

I'm a bit stuck as to what to do. By september 8 she needs to be there 7.30am- 6pm three days a week eating/drinking/napping etc etc but I'm prepared to do as much groundwork as needed until then but could do with some pointers.

'm thinking of tackling one bit at a time at the mo:

so first I'm thinking of taking her in after her afternoon nap and concentrating on getting her to eat something (and drink a bit of water). So this Fri and Mon I'll try leaving her there from 2 ish until 4 then joining her at the nursery for her tea and trying to feed her myself (then I can figure if the problem is the food is warm (she's only had room temp food before), is too thick, or if it's the strangeness of it all). I'm taking in the doidy as she's familiar with it to see if she'll drink water from it.

Once we crack eating I thought we'd try to see if I can get her to take a bottle.

Then after that I'll start taking her in to have her afternoon nap there to see if she'll sleep there.

Then after that I'll get earlier and earlier taking her in until she does a full day.

Is this the right way to go about it? Any other suggestions? I'm really worried that we'll get to the week before I go back to work and she's still upset and not eating.

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pleasechange · 05/08/2009 20:16

oh I really feel for you, sounds like you're having a hard time. I have no particular advice, but I think what nickschick said is very wise. Apparently this sort of age is hard as well due to the separation anxiety they can get - I know DS went through a stage of not wanting anyone but me and DH.

I think your approach sounds sensible. Really hope your DD settles soon, I'm sure she will

lynniep · 05/08/2009 20:24

Can you stay with her? I know a lot of nurseries are against that, but its the only thing that worked for us, and the (second) nursery we tried let me stay with DS for his settling in sessions. I did shorter and shorter stays, then moved out of the room and by the time I stopped staying and increasing his time there without me he was used to the surroundings and the staff. There were still tears when I left him (he still strops 18 months later when I leave) but it was for 'show'. (When I left him at original nursery where I wasnt allowed to stay he sobbed for the whole time he was there for every session)

The approach you've mentioned though about joining her for tea sounds good. The fact that she was ok for about an hour is also great news. Good luck with it!

makedoandmend · 05/08/2009 21:38

Thanks allnew - I'm crossing finger's toes etc

Lynniep - I'm trying to let her be on her own for a bit then coming back (I've done two one hour stays with her there plus feeding her there everyday). How long did it take you to get your DS settled?

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Baconsarnie · 05/08/2009 22:01

The going away and coming back is a good idea, because then she knows that mummy comes back, and she relaxes. I know it's hard (I went through it in April), but it does get better, honestly. She'll get used to her new surroundings, and to the new people looking after her, and she'll be fine. Stick with it, this too shall pass!

purepurple · 06/08/2009 07:35


She will settle eventually, it will just take some time.
It really is the worst thing, listening to your baby cry and feeling helpless.
As someone mentioned, she is coming into the seperation anxiety phase, which makes it all seem so much harder.
Your plan that you detailed sounds like a good one.
It is good that you have set small steps and you have set a goal too.
I am sure that she will be fine. That doesn't make it any easier at the momemt, I know, but you will both get through this.
Also, it is very common for babies to cry when being dropped off in the morning. And then to cry again when being picked up later. The poor parent then thinks their baby has been crying all day, but this is hardly ever the case.
Do you know who her key person is?
Concentrate on building up a relationship with this person, it will help you to leave her with somebody you like and trust.
Good luck, you will get there.

makedoandmend · 06/08/2009 08:07

Thanks baconsarnie and purepurple.

I've met her key person who is lovely - but because they rotate every two weeks she hasn't been there for the last two sessions (but will be there on Friday). DD also likes one of the other girls there so I'll check to make sure one of them is always going to be on baby shift when she is there.

I know it will take time - but there is nothing quite like going in to pick up a red faced, gulpy baby who has obviously been crying for aaaages. ugh - the guilt!

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purepurple · 06/08/2009 08:16

I am not impressed that the staff in the baby room are not consistent. I don't think OFSTED would be happy with this arrangement either. Babies need to see the same staff.It is a fundamental part of caring for babies, consistent staff.
What is the purpose of the nursery rotating staff? Have they explained? I am intrigued as to why they would do this. Please ask them.

notyummy · 06/08/2009 08:27

I would also ask about the staff, as one of the key things OFSTED looks for is continuity of care, particularly of babies.

DD started nursery for 4 days a week at 6 months old and cried a bit at first, but having her lovely key worker helped. Within a month, she grinned like a loon when I took her in and saw Charlie (said Key Worker) and wriggled to get away from me for cuddles with her!

Is there anyway the staff could take pics of her when she does settle so you could see her in that setting enjoying herself - may make you feel a bit better?

lynniep · 06/08/2009 08:28

I agree the staff rotation is wierd. They need familiarity - thats probably the most major thing - getting used to the staff. I dont think familiarity with the setting is enough and two weeks is a lifetime to a baby.

makedo - It took DS just over two months to get used to nursery, but that was on one, maybe two sessions a week (not sure why they wanted to space it out so much - I wanted them closer together. He was teeny bit older - about 10 months) I think it was about the 5th session that I left the room for a while, then came back and he'd not not noticed. We did this a couple of times then I left the building completely. He was fine.

It was like some kind of miracle after the complete c*ck up at the first nursery (when he was 7 months) when they wouldnt let me stay and he screamed for the whole hour I was gone and eventually started screaming when we approached the front door [door]

I do think your approach sounds good though. If she can already manage an hour without crying then building her time up gradually with you coming back to her sounds like a great plan.

makedoandmend · 06/08/2009 09:07

Lynniep - god that must have been so stressful for you to have him scream approaching the door! I think I'd have screamed too!

Notyummy - I'm going to get clarification on the staff rotation. I think it's so the older kids get to see the staff from the baby room who they obviously got used to. It didn't really occur to me to ask at the time - obviously now I realise it's an issue! So far though although her keyworker hasn't been there all the time, another staff member has been in every time the keyworker has been away (I think DD may actually prefer this other girl!)

They're going to think I'm a right pita - already complained as I've detailed here

I'll ask them re the pics. I know they take a lot as they're posted up everywhere with the babies covered in cold spaghetti! It looks so much fun.

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makedoandmend · 07/08/2009 19:22

I checked re the staff rotation and apparently for the four key staff it's one week in the baby room and one week in the 1-2 year old room.

Is this normal? It's a bit of a pain because after only having two afternoon sessions plus one one hour session (out of three one hour sessions, and three half days) with her key person (who also has her very clingy ds there) dd will apparently be with a new person on monday who is usually there but has been on holiday over the last two weeks (dds key staff member and the other staff member who she knows are in the 1-2 room). I spoke to the owner about it and she said that it was so that children get to know several key members of staff who were unlikely to be off ill/hols at the same time.

As I've said on the other thread I'm really beginning to think I should look at CMs but it just feels like starting all over again.

Today I went in to feed dd but she wouldnt' eat their goop (and it really was goopy - don't think potatoes blend very well) - so ended up giving her stuff that I had with me. She was fine with me but screamed when the 'key' person ( with son on lap (!)) tried to feed her so I had to take over again.

Feeling just about it all

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purepurple · 08/08/2009 08:28

Swapping key staff around is not normal.
OFSTED are very keen on continuity of staff especially with the babies and it is enshrined in the new Early Years Foundation Stage

makedoandmend · 08/08/2009 13:37

Thanks purepurple. I'll have a look at that.

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Parapluie · 08/08/2009 22:32

My daughter started nursery when she was 8 months old. It was utterly dreadful. She screamed and cried from the minute I took her in and left her whilst sitting in the staff room until she was brought back to me, a quivering, gulping wreck. She had vomited repeatedly and so was naked but for her nappy. I took her only 2-3 times. I couldn't do it any more. I know how desperate you are feeling and I wouldn't tell you this if you sounded like you had no other option, but you did say how long should you leave it before looking at other options so it sounds to me that there are alternatives for her ... my husband and I worked out that we both returned to work part time and we got a nanny for one day of the week when we were both at work. It has worked a treat. She was ok with the nanny from day one and now adores her. I have not had to stop bfeeding either.

Nursery simply isn't the place for every baby. Even the nursery told me that.

Big hugs to you, whatever happens it will get better I promise. And your daughter will always love you.

atworknotworking · 09/08/2009 10:06

makedoandmend I think I commented on the continuity staff rotation issue on your other post, but have just read this and it sounds really bizarre, I have never come accross a nursery that shifts the staff each week, a good nursery will have a childs keyworker throughout the year, or untill they move onto the next room some even move the staff with the children. Your DD hasn't got a hope in hell of bonding with her key worker at this rate.

I am also a bit that the nursery allow a carer to work directly with her own child, it's not great practice, although I don't think it's against the rules IYKWIM. When I worked at the nursery my DD was at I didn't work the same room and if we came accross each other I said hello DD and walked on just as I would with any of the other children that I knew from another room and I certainly would not interfere with how a carer was looking after my DD (unless of course it was blatantly bad, but the staff I worked with were fab so no issue). In fact at my DD's first party the parents all asked me if I knew the family, they didn't realise she was my DD as I treated her just the same as everyone else, I love her a lot more though obviously .

I think I said before that the organisation is a bit pants, I would be looking for somewhere else me thinks.

makedoandmend · 09/08/2009 20:36

Parapluie - thank you your post made me tear up - they were very kind words. Today we went to see my step FIL's parents - both in their eighties. My dd loved them and didn't cry at all and it just made me think no it's not everyone she doesn't like - it's the chaotic world of the nursery. So tomorrow I'm going to go through all the local CM's, nurseries (again - but with a clearer idea of what I want this time) and nanny agencies to see what there is. I don't think we can do as you did - my husband's job couldn't be done part time (well it could but his employer wouldn't let him) and he's only just got this after redundancy so we're loathe to rock the boat further, but we can look at alternatives. I'd love a nanny, I really would (it's now become the main reason I do the lottery - how desperate is that!), but I think it's beyond our budget. I'm so glad it worked out for you though. Your story gave me hope.

atworknotworking - a big thankyou to you too - I'm so glad you agree with me re the working with her own child thing. I just don't feel like she's able to bond with my child because she's worrying about her own ds who is going through a very clingy faze.
And the rotation thing is odd isn't it? Even as a layperson it doesn't ring right with me.

So I guess I'm starting from scratch again. I'll ring work tomorrow and delay starting until September 15 if they'll let me (I have holiday) I may start another thread about what to look for in a CM/nursery (if I can't find any other info on here about it) so I would be very pleased if you could give me some tips!

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nickschick · 10/08/2009 08:59

As a nursery nurse the private nursery I worked at even though it was 16 years ago recognised that children needed continuity and as I was with the older children I started my mat leave really late and then went in for a few hours a week (paid) just to keep in contact with 'my' children - and then towards the end of August I was again paid to go to nursery and just be 'with ,my children' - I left my newborn with the baby room(the oic covered him) and this was to help the children Id cared for remain settled in their final weeks before leaving for schools nursery.

I returned to work there as a favour,staff were messing around and I was a frequent 'guest' anyway and I had to take ds2 with me who by that time was 2 and I wasnt his key worker- we made a decision that for him to get the best out of nursery he would need a different carer - thats not to say he was never with me - often he would nip in to see me for a hug but our approach really worked.

Im very suspicious of this nursery and think its not ever going to be suited to your dd and would think of a childminder if i were you.

makedoandmend · 10/08/2009 09:36

Thanks nickschick. It seems that everyone who has anything to do with looking after children professionally on here is pretty sure this nursery doesn't sound right. It's a shame as it really does have a lovely atmosphere and I think it's probably great for older children - they all seem very happy but it's just the baby room that doesn't feel right. Other friends who send their children there seem happy with it but then I'm not sure they spent as much time there as I did (and they've got very different children).

Thank god I decided to give her a month to settle in before going back to work - how do peope cope who put their kids in for a couple of sessions before going back?!

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